Junior: Writing Your Way Ahead in Advertising


This book is very helpful for anyone who wants to get into freelance or agency marketing. It gives some practical writing advice, but it’s mainly tips and strategies on how to create good campaigns inside of an agency.


Chapter 2: Writing, Rewriting, and Re-Writing

The majority of our job is not coming up with great ideas. It’s crafting the words and art around other people’s ideas to make them great.

How to Write Headlines:

  • Sit in front of the page and write line after line after line in quick succession until your lines are loosely connected to where you started.
  • Once you get that perfect line, rewrite in 20 different ways. Flop the structure, start with the verb. Start with the noun.

Advertising has killed these words. Use them sparingly:

  • Perfect
  • Unique
  • Intersting
  • New
  • No Wonder
  • Special
  • Not to Mention
  • That’s Why
  • First
  • Only
  • Exclusive
  • Special
  • No Matter

Before you put pen to paper, think about how you’re going to say what you’re going to say. British voiceover?

Don’t EVER use these words in headlines:

  • Like
  • Stuff
  • Things

Never let people guess the next word you’re going to use.

Create tension with headlines. Example:

  • Dull line: Take your work out of the office with a mobile broadband card.
  • Line with Tension: The office is no place to work.

How to Steal Headlines Like a Pro:

1. Find a well-known saying and twist it.

  • “Start acting your younger age”
  • “Make your long story look short”

2. Be bland, then play with it

  • This: Great signal in Kansas City.
  • Becomes this: KC’s drenched in our sweet and tangy signal sauce

3. Take the crappy line from a creative brief and make it not crappy

4. Big small/High low

  • Finding a parallel you can make in the language between opposites
  • “Small Rates. Big Deal.”
  • “Pay a little, get a lot.”
  • “Giant horsepower. Tiny Price.”

5. Duck. Duck. Goose

  • Two quick thoughts followed by one longer thought
  • “It’s this. It’s that. It’s going to change the way you do this forever”
  • “Word, word, word, twist.”

Chapter 3: More Words? You’ve got to be kidding. (Body copy and other longer form writing)

Don’t make body copy an explanation for the headline. If that’s the case, the headline isn’t clear enough.

Think title & story. The title hints at what you’re about to read, the story is what you read.

Write the body first, then think of the headline.

To properly write body copy for a product, the product must solve a problem or be a resolution to some situation. The first part of this process is defining that conflict.

Logic and order come more in the editing page. For now, just keep writing content.

One of the fastest ways to class up your language is to use VERB NOUN:

  • Hammer away.
  • Feather past
  • Anchor in.

Be specific.

If a story doesn’t seem right, consider a convincing argument.

  • Logos – Does this make sense?
  • Pathos – Is there emotion? What is the reader feeling?
  • Ethos – Who are you and why should I care?

Rule #1 – Is this something you’d want to read? If not, I don’t want to read it either.

Chapter 4: TV or online video

The script will be a lot more attractive to a director if you let them put their own mark on it

Think through your choices very well

Trust your gut and other people’s, but be wary of logical explanations for errors. No person will be there to explain to ever home viewer why it is the way it is.

Chapter 5: Digital, social, and all of that

Put yourself in the role of the first time viewer. Does the single post make sense, even though they haven’t seen the rest of the campaign?

When brainstorming, think of what you want people to take away from the campaign. List them out and start from there.

If your tone is funny, it has to be funny from the banner on Twitter to the About Us page on the website.

Some of the best digital experiences mimic the physical world or work on top it. Try to make digital less digital.

Read copy aloud. If a joke is supposed to be a punchline, have that line come up delayed.

If you’re asking anyone to do something that’s more difficult than lifting a feather, they won’t do it.

As much as you can, don’t make anyone click or tap through an ad. You lose people that way.

When optimizing for SEO, think like a person trying to find you. Not the words you think represent you or the brand.

Chapter 6: Experimental Marketing

There’s something unique about warped scale. A building is boring, but a shrunken building is cool. A thumbtack is lame, but a giant thumbtack is cool.

Make an exclusive guest list

Alcohol. ‘Nough said.

You don’t need to convince every on earth that the product is cool, just the people everyone on earth look up to.

Chapter 7: Pitching new business

If any idea takes longer than 15 seconds to explain, kill it.

An easy way to create a manifesto is have an intriguing thought in the beginning, a line at the end that could be a tagline, and fill in the rest of it with language that flows from your insight to the line at the end.

A good test of your idea is to think if it would still be clever if you were presenting it in a noisy food court and you had to stop for a minute halfway through presenting it.

Chapter 8: The delicate art of presenting

Solve your client’s underlying problem, and there’s no stopping what you’re allowed to get away with. Sometimes, it’s as simple as them not wanting to get yelled at by their boss. If that’s the case, offer them extra help in impressing them with case studies, facts, data, etc.

Clients don’t care about your awards or training. They want you to tell them an insight that they didn’t know in a way that they can believe.

Let your client into the thinking. They often don’t realize you spent 2 hour deciding which font to use.

If an idea is dead, move on. Don’t let a client talk an idea to death over and over again. It wastes time. Take notes on what they don’t like and move on.

Pick someone before the meeting to own the idea. Everyone else shouldn’t talk or explain it unless they are directly asked a question.

Don’t use the world “cool” to present an idea. Use the word “smart”.

Chapter 9: Words of Advice

Making memorable work is not the agency’s job. It’s yours.

Don’t wait for someone else to decide it’s time for your career to start.

One assignment grows into the next, and into the next. Weasel in anyway you can.

Chapter 10: Inspiration on being a creative

You’re probably not the best. Put your ego aside and learn from other’s.

Press is a better measure of success than awards.

Chapter 11: How to deal and avoid politics

Let your clients kill your work and lean on your boss.

As a starting creative, your job is to prove your Creative Director right

Few will take risks, everyone will take credit.

No matter who says it, if it’s a good idea, run with it.